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2009 University of

From the University of
Toronto Press Website

Cut off in traffic? Bumped without apology on the subway? Forced to listen to a profane conversation in a public space? In today's Western societies, many feel that there has been a noticeable and marked decrease in mutual consideration in both public and private settings. Are we less civil now than in the past? Benet Davetian's masterful study Civility: A Cultural History responds to this question through a historical, social, and psychological discussion of the civility practices in three nations England, France, and the USA.

Davetian's rich multi-dimensional review of civility from 1200 to the present day contextualizes his topic and provides insight into the customs of all three countries. His multi-dimensional analysis of the psychology of human interaction charts a new course for the study and understanding of civility and civil society. Civility addresses a major topic in public discourse today, providing insight into the ideals and practices of civility and offering a meditation on the possibility of a future civility ethic capable of inspiring cooperation across cultural and national boundaries.

Benet Davetian is Chair and Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Prince Edward Island and is Director of the Civility Institute. He is listed in Canadian Who's Who for his accomplishments in Canadian Culture.



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International Praise for

Benet Davetian's scintillating tour de force fills a gaping void in the history of ideas.
P.M. Forni, Professor, Johns Hopkins University. Author of Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct

"Civility: A cultural History" is a tour-de-force: a work of dazzling scholarship on this core concept of our social life, ranging from the Middle Ages to the present, and covering France, England and the United States. Spitting, line-up etiquette, toilet hygiene, good manners, and the relativity of politeness are all discussed as they change and vary in this most engaging and poetically written work. Davetian is as much at home with The Art of Courtly Love, the Enlightenment, the rise of individualism, the Victorian gentleman and gentlewoman, as with contemporary teens and narcissism. It's absolutely fascinating!
Anthony Synnott, Professor of Sociology, Concordia University.
Author of The Body Social; Shadows: Issues and Social Problems in Canada; co-author of Aroma: The Cultural History of Smell.

Benet Davetian's Civility will take you on a compelling social and psychological journey through the history of civility, from the Middle Ages to the present day. Essential reading for anyone interested in international standards and customs of courtesy, Davetian's perspective on the cross-cultural impact of civility practices is not only thorough and insightful, but also encouragingly optimistic.
Louise Fox, etiquette coach and Director of The Etiquette Leader.

Benet Davetian's magisterial yet highly readable study forms a worthy complement to Norbert Elias classic discussion. The book includes many fascinating insights into the differences in civility practices between France, England, and the USA.
William Outhwaite, Professor of Sociology, Newcastle University. Author of European Society; The Future of Society; Co-Editor of the Blackwell Dictionary Of Social Thought.

This is an interesting and important piece of scholarship. It traces the evolution of civility across time and space, and finds that instead of being a monolithic concept, civility has taken different forms in France, England and the US. In this tour, Davetian takes us from the distant past to the present day, and also examines how the tide of civility may have crested, and may now be receding. A great read.
A. R. Gillis, Professor Emeritus, Sociology, University of Toronto

Dr. Davetian has accomplished an important goal with his book. He has meshed the personal and social into a text that gives meaning to disembodied theories. His academic credentials are impeccable but so are his feelings and emotions, his humanity, in regard to sociological phenomena.
Dr. Arthur Janov, Director, The Primal Center, Santa Monica.
Author of The Primal Scream; The Feeling Child; Primal Healing.

Impressive in both scope and depth, this engaging book is an innovative and substantial dialogue on the concept of civility. Well documented and erudite, it not only historicizes the development of civility but also grounds it in today's society, offering a renewed perspective on crucial issues such as multiculturalism. I read Civility with great pleasure.
ean-François Côté, Professor of Sociology, Université du Québec à Montréal. Author of: Architecture dun marcheur. Entretiens avec Wajdi Mouawad; Le triangle dHermès. Poe, Stein, Warhol, figures de la modernité esthétique.